Is it the old woman’s fault? Society’s fault?
I am not sure of the exact date of the rhyme’s origin but there are certainly parts of the world where women who have a lot of children under seeming contravention of them knowing what they are doing.
It’s not that the ‘old woman’ had ‘so many children she didn’t know what to do’. It’s not that. That IS an issue. You have had so many children that you DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO? I can comprehend someone waking up with amnesia in Berlin not knowing what to do (immediately – clearly I’d expect them to remember their skills as an assassin after a few minutes).
What about the residence? A SHOE. She lived in a SHOE. With so many children she didn’t know what to do. A shoe. When you see the pictures of this whole scenario in the books of children you see a giant shoe-shaped house. That wasn’t a thing. And if it was a thing, why did it stop being a thing?
Why would it be a thing? What architect is thinking that the shoe is so good a design for the foot that it should be replicated for a domicile?
Giving her children broth without any bread is surely the least of her misdemeanors. Pity the kid who is one of so many their own mother has lost sense of what she should be doing who LIVES IN A SHOE – but is tipped over the edge receiving a broth without any bread. Of course you can’t afford bread: YOU LIVE IN A SHOE.
Oh yeah and she whipped them all and sent them to bed. Because that’s the same as not giving people bread with a broth. She’s a child abuser. That’s enough. The rhyme should just read
There was an old woman who whipped numerous children she was prosecuted.
Wikipedia says there was an alternative christian version published in 1978 that had the old woman “having so many children she loved them all too” and thanked Jesus for sending them bread – before kissing them all gently before sending them to bed.
I don’t think you can compare the two women. One is a delirious bread-less child abuser, the other is a lovely woman who gets her bread handmade by Jesus. The only similarity is that they both live in a shoe.
And both had fertile ovaries past what society deems as the benchmark for being old.